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ANF continues CWD-related feeding restrictions

While the 2021-2022 hunting season didn’t show any new positive Chronic Wasting Disease tests among white-tailed deer in Warren County, federal officials have decided to extend an order to ban most wildlife feeding on the Allegheny National Forest.

The Forest Service announced the decision on Tuesday.

“The restriction, which has been in place since September 2021,” officials say, “only applies to activities on National Forest System lands. It will remain in place until the order is rescinded.”

The order specifically prohibits feeding wildlife “or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals on the Allegheny National Forest.”

There are exceptions for bird feeders placed in developed campgrounds and anyone with a permit authorizing such acts. Local, state, federal and fire officials are also exempt from the regulation when “in the performance of an official duty.”

Federal officials highlight the May 2021 confirmation by the state Department of Agriculture “that a captive white-tailed deer on a Warren County hunting preserve tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

“CWD is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects members of the deer, or cervid, family and is always fatal to the animals it infects. It develops very slowly in the lymph nodes, spinal tissue, and brains of deer and elk in Pennsylvania. To date, there is no evidence that it can be spread to humans.”

They argue that feeding wildlife “can amplify the transmission of diseases like CWD while also threatening habitat, increasing vehicle collisions and alternating “normal behavior patterns.”

Data from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s CWD Results and Surveillance show that 11,470 samples were tested state-wide during the 2021-2022 hunting season. A total of 261 came back with CWD detections, 2.22 percent of the total tested.

None of the 540 samples tested from Warren County came back positive.

The closest detections were two from Jefferson County.

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